Class Consciousness and Working Class Emancipation

Discussion with the Angry Workers of the World (AWW)

This article originally began as a response to the AWW’s reply to our review of their book Class Power on Zero Hours in Revolutionary Perspectives 16.(1) However, as we were writing it, the AWW published another blog article entitled “The necessity of a revolutionary working class program in times of coup and civil war scenarios”(2) in which we can see that the promised move towards organisation and an escape from reformist demand struggles mentioned at the end of Class Power on Zero Hours has indeed taken some shape.

The Central Issue

We always intended our review of the AWW book, entitled “Learning the Hard Way”, to be an opener to a discussion of what we consider the central issue for revolutionaries, and that is the relationship between ourselves and the wider working class. This is why we concluded our review:

The AWW haven’t made much progress, they say, by operating on an informal level and hoping that people will simply join them. They now reluctantly concede that constituting a more formal organisation may be necessary and that this will, although “traditional and tedious”, involve building an “organisation with a political platform.” Thus they want “others to join and build chapters in their area. To lay down that this is not about ‘joining’ but about establishing roots within the class on similar lines (solidarity network, strategic workplace groups, newspapers). To develop a clear structure of ‘self-education’ with worker comrades who are interested in joining.”
In some ways this is to be welcomed by those of us who have been attempting the “traditional and tedious” for decades. … Our experience of the victimisation of militants by both unions and bosses (often in cahoots, as AWW found out) means they do all they can to prevent us from functioning. And remember what we have been trying to do is establish political and not merely defensive or demand organisations in the workplace. This is a tougher task and like AWW we have more failures than successes to report. … In reality none of us can transcend the actual level of consciousness of the struggle. And voluntarism is no substitute for the long and patient work of constant contact that is needed to build a revolutionary political organisation that is rooted in the working class. Until the class in general revives we have little water to swim in. Today the signs are that amongst younger workers there is a growing recognition that the working class has paid the price for 40 years of capitalist crisis but apart from the most deprived migrant workers (this is a global phenomenon) few sectors have as yet become openly combative.

This is an invitation to serious discussion. We can see now that this could have been misinterpreted. In their reply, instead of relating to our common recognition of the problems in getting a wider audience in the working class despite all our best efforts, they chose to ignore that issue, and instead to defend their own practice with a series of diversionary arguments. It’s only natural that they would defend their past but it would be easier to take it more seriously if they cut out their presumptive comments about other groups and individuals whose practice they admit they know nothing about. The constant “prolier than thou” attitude and littering their responses with complete red herrings does not help to clarify anything. We learned from bitter experience long ago that there are no winners in empty polemics between organisations desperate to prove that there is only one true road.

We don’t want to dwell on these but just for the record we note that the AWW say we labelled them as “syndicalists” in our Revolutionary Perspectives 16 piece. Anyone reading the original review can see this is not true. We made no attempt to pigeon hole them in order to dismiss them. Had we seen them as simply syndicalist we would probably not even have reviewed the book since it would have little new to say. From the very start of our review we located them as a mixture of things coming from both operaismo and syndicalist traditions. We tried to treat each of their experiences as different in detail but also demonstrate that there is a tendency throughout the book for them to abandon informal ways of organising and turn to more traditional forms such as unions, and then rank and file unions.

Having accused us of attaching labels they feel free to throw out their own by focussing on our supposed “Leninist origins”. There is no agreed definition of “Leninism” today. Some use it (as here) as a term of dismissal or even abuse. Others wear it with pride. But few actually ever analyse what lies behind the label. Today it has lost all meaning, if indeed it had any in the first place. Lenin made an enormous contribution to the working class revolution from 1914-18 but in an isolated Russia he also later became the chief architect of a “workers’ state without the workers” as he admitted, or rather a state capitalist economy which continued to exploit the working class. The AWW’s version of Leninism is taken almost verbatim from the defunct German operaist group Kolinko:

Lenin’s understanding of political organisation was a product of its time. He saw the necessity of forming a tightly knit, clandestine organisation to survive the surveillance of the Czarist police state. This meant that the ‘political organisation’ tended to be relatively sealed off from day-to-day struggles of the class. ‘Workers develop trade union consciousness, political consciousness comes from without’. The necessity of a sealed off political organisation fused with his rather mechanistic view of ‘materialist philosophy’, which failed to grasp the ‘practical’ interrelationship between the material world and our representation and reflection on it.(3)

This passage only applies to the Lenin of 1902-5. When he quoted Kautsky in What is to be Done? about workers only developing trades union consciousness, he was expressing not “Leninism” (i.e. his own view) but what he thought was still social democratic orthodoxy. As Lars Lih, Hal Draper and others have long shown(4), the 1905 revolution changed both the situation of the Russian working class, and Lenin’s own views. He last refers to What is to be Done? in 1907 but only to say that it was now no longer valid as it “belonged to a different period”. At this point the Bolsheviks had 46,000 members, the overwhelming majority of them workers.(5) A “sealed-off political organisation”? They were neither self-referent nor monolithic (as even the capitalist commentator Leonard Shapiro had to admit).(6) They lost almost three quarters of these members in the reaction that followed 1905 but never lost a base in the class, and in 1917 the Russian working class rebuilt the Party as an expression of its revolutionary and internationalist demands because it had been the most established force agitating in the class for opposition to the war and capitalism. The AWW at this point tell readers that they do not want “to go deep into history” but it seems they need to get more acquainted with it instead of repeating Cold War propaganda.(7) And the whole point of our review of their experiences was that they were simply re-learning the lessons from the past “the hard way” even if they dressed them up in the language of novelty. There is a certain irony here as they have since been forced to reply to their critics of their own article “The necessity of a revolutionary working class program in times of coup and civil war scenarios” with the riposte that they:

… find it tedious to respond to people whose knee-jerk reaction to ‘organisation’ is ‘Leninism’.

To which we can only say “amen”.

Whatever their six years in Greenford taught the AWW, it has confirmed just how far the working class is from rediscovering its capacities to fight on its own terms. Despite the mounting evidence that the capitalist system is a threat to humanity, in both the immediate and long term, the working class response has been, to say the least, muted. We still see episodic evidence that the old mole is burrowing away but, at the moment, two generations of retreat have left many workers thinking that they are too isolated from collective action to even think of fighting back, and the AWW have proved it. Despite their obvious propaganda skills they could not even engender much of a resistance in fights over basic conditions.

When the AWW patronisingly ask us if we are “courageous [sic! Are we being asked to die in the factory?] enough to follow [them] into the contradictory nature of everyday working class lives” we can only respond that we don’t see our lives as distinct from the rest of the class. Indeed for most of us, no section of the working class holds our revolutionary ideas in more contempt than some of our own family members. Such is the “contradictory nature” of working class lives today.

Behind the condescending ouvrierism of the AWW response though there is also an incredible arrogance in pronouncing about what the CWO (or sometimes “groups like it”) does, or does not do. We have never blown our own trumpet about our activity because it is nothing great to boast about given that we have operated for almost our entire existence in a period of class retreat. This did not stop us from agitating in the various struggles of the class from the steel strike in 1980 to the anti-poll tax campaign in 1990, via the miners’ strike and Wapping, etc. In these fights we agitated for the adoption of proletarian forms that the working class discovered in the past, but which are not always readily recalled. Control by mass assemblies, election of revocable strike committees and passing resolutions to ensure that those committees cannot be browbeaten in smoke-filled rooms by the class enemy posing as our friends from “the Labour movement” have all been part of our work.(8) In everything we have been involved with we try to demonstrate that, as revolutionary internationalists, we can be trusted not to betray the struggle. Sometimes it took 15 or more years to win the right to be listened to by our fellow workers and in the course of that process the listening was not all on one side. We learned what not to do as well as when to do things.

Through it all we have survived and somehow grown, first of all “by seriously engaging with, for example, the rediscovery of Marx” which the AWW, with some gall, cheerfully announces we have not done. Indeed it was the end of the post-war boom that compelled us to make a serious study of Capital (and led us to break from the confused swamp of ex-Trotskyist, so-called libertarian groups like Solidarity which ended up accepting the anti-Marxist analysis of Paul Cardan and Socialisme ou Barbarie). Understanding the operation of the laws of capitalism became the bedrock of our perspectives. It enabled us to understand the restructuring of manufacturing, the collapse of the USSR, the failure of the “New World Order” after the collapse of Bretton Woods, as well as globalisation and financialisation. This even allowed us to predict the bursting of the speculative bubble in 2007-8. It also allowed us to see the constant mutation of the working class in the face of capitalist restructuring brought about by the crisis of accumulation. This brought about a change in our practical orientation. Whereas our focus had been on the factory alone to start with, by the 1990s we could see that the composition of the class was changing (and has continued to change).(9) The most obvious change was to recognise that in the old capitalist heartlands the class was no longer concentrated in the vast fortresses of industry we had begun with in the 1970s. Now we had to focus as much on the territory, the working class community on which the workplaces were based, as on the workplace itself. However, our aim is to win over other workers to the political programme of working class emancipation, and this is what divided us from the AWW for whom, until recently, the struggle was everything and the goal vague.

The “Ideological Washer” of the Communist Left

Before we get on to the more recent document of the AWW we want to just clarify a couple of points which if not answered can leave a confused idea about our political framework particularly on the union question, past and present. The AWW’s cavalier approach to history allows them to make some statements that have not a vestige of truth. Take this example:

Bordiga was very involved in trade union struggles during the 1910s and 1920s, while maintaining the necessity of political leadership by a communist organisation. He rejected a united front with bourgeois political parties, but spoke in favour of a ‘trade union united front’. “The party must participate in every action to which the proletariat is driven by its economic condition”. Only during the leaden years of the 1930s and 1940s did the left-communist position introduce an ideological washer between ‘economic’ and ‘political struggle’. The CWO carries this baggage.

It is ironic that after accusing the CWO of “Leninism” the AWW should bring in as witness for the prosecution the self-confessed “Leninist”, Bordiga. But then they give a meaningless quote by Bordiga to support the punchline accusation of an “ideological washer” introduced by the Communist Left sometime during the two decades in which Bordiga retired from the political scene. It is, of course, utter nonsense. Bordiga’s seminal document at the time of the foundation of the Communist Party of Italy (PCd’I) had already (for analytical purposes) made the heuristic distinction between the economic and political struggle of the working class:

The bourgeoisie feels that, as long as the proletariat’s action can be limited to the immediate economic demands that are raised trade by trade, it helps to safeguard the status-quo and to avoid the formation of the perilous “political” consciousness – that is, the only consciousness which is revolutionary for it aims at the enemy’s vulnerable point, the possession of power. Past and present syndicalists, however, have always been conscious of the fact that most trade unions are controlled by right wing elements and that the dictatorship of the petty bourgeois leaders over the masses is based on the union bureaucracy even more than on the electoral mechanism of the social-democratic pseudo-parties. Therefore the syndicalists, along with very numerous elements who were merely acting in reaction to the reformist practice, devoted themselves to the study of new forms of union organisation and created new unions independent from the traditional ones. Such an expedient was theoretically wrong for it did not go beyond the fundamental criterion of the economic organisation: that is, the automatic admission of all those who are placed in given conditions by the part they play in production, without demanding special political convictions or special pledges of actions which may require even the sacrifice of their lives. Moreover, in looking for the “producer” it could not go beyond the limits of the “trade”, whereas the class party, by considering the “proletarian” in the vast range of his conditions and activities, is alone able to awaken the revolutionary spirit of the class.

The article concludes:

… the class originates from an immediate homogeneity of economic conditions which appear to us as the primary motive force of the tendency to destroy and go beyond the present mode of production. But in order to assume this great task, the class must have its own thought, its own critical method, its own will bent on the precise ends defined by research and criticism, and its own organisation of struggle channelling and utilising with the utmost efficiency its collective efforts and sacrifices. All this constitutes the party.(10)

And when the Internationalist Communist Party was founded in 1943 it still adhered to this position. Indeed its militants were killed by Stalinists when they were elected by workers to the Factory Commissions.(11) What was debated in the Party’s early Congresses (1945 and 1948) was how to deal with the situation where the destruction of the Fascist unions would lead to the re-establishment of the old union federations linked to the Socialist, Communist (i.e. Stalinist), and Christian Democratic Parties. It was recognised that they were now linked to the state in the management of the sale of labour power but the comrades who had founded the Party recognised that members of the organisation would have to be where the workers were (the unions) but that something had to be organised to give the most revolutionary workers something to rally round. Thus the idea of factory groups (originally entitled “union factory groups”) which would link the economic struggle in the factories to the longer term political interests of the class. So much for the insertion of a “washer” between the two aspects of the struggle.

The Oxymoron of “Class Unions” Today

Bordiga did not join the Internationalist Communist Party but wrote for its major publications after 1945. He had though not moved on from the time when he retired from active political work and still considered the unions “non-constitutional voluntary organisations”. He still shared Lenin’s view that they were “transmission belts” between the class and the political party. Today some of his descendants still adhere to this idea but others like Il Partito (which split from Bordiga’s original party in 1974) consider that this definition should only be for “red” or “class” trade unions. Today they, like the AWW, support the rank and file (base) unions like SiCobas which is,

able to organise dozens of offensive strikes with migrant logistics workers ... The CWO is not able to ignore the successes of SI Cobas (sic), but instead of looking deeper into the contradictions of rank-and-file unions, something which might have practical value and consequences, they chose to retreat into the political moral high ground.

We take that to mean that we have refused to suspend our critical faculties. The AWW qualify their remarks about the successes of SiCobas with the caution that the “trade union form sometimes runs into dead ends”. For revolutionaries the trade union form is always a dead end but we do understand that even struggles which begin under the aegis of the unions sometimes run out of their control. That’s why we are rank and file members of the unions wherever it seems that we have a chance of addressing other workers. However, the first thing to note is how even these rank and file unions fragment the class. SiCobas is not the only rank and file union in Italy (there are many) and often they are splits from one another. At least Bordiga’s early arguments for communist work in the trade unions was that they represented the unity of the mass of the class whilst the party was a minority. The situation of the workers in base unions is really tragic.

For now, migrant workers (in logistics and elsewhere) have nothing else to protect them but organisations like SiCobas. SiCobas has grown because the traditional unions are not interested in organising migrants (and have even been known to send their goons against them). However, the AWW have swallowed what SiCobas organisers say about themselves. The truth is a little more complex. The SiCobas tactic is to find groups of migrant workers who are employed indirectly by so-called “cooperatives” (in reality job agencies). These cooperatives hold back the full nationally agreed wage for the job and many migrant workers don’t even know that they are being both exploited and robbed. Enter SiCobas, who find out which group is not being paid the full rate and offer to get it restored via the courts but first require the workers to take strike action to open the case. At a Peroni brewery near Rome in February CWO and PCInt members took part in the demonstration and picket in support of these workers. Talking to them for a long time they told us that the strike leader (the local SiCobas organiser) who spoke through a megaphone to the assembly was “our lawyer” and that SiCobas was their only hope. They advanced no slogans or demands of their own but repeated the standard “SiCobas, SiCobas” or “Touch one, touch all” chants as we marched down to the brewery gate. When we asked about solidarity from Italian workers, or even one of the other groups of migrants, who worked for other cooperatives, they said they understood why they were not at the picket because “they get paid the legal wage”. The good news was that apparently the cooperative feared it would lose the Peroni contract and caved in by the middle of the next week.(12) The achievement here was to win what they were legally entitled to under capitalist law but from a revolutionary point of view this was a very limited action.

The hope is that it will encourage others to resist but the situation of isolation from the rest of the working class is leaving the workers more open to vicious and violent attacks by the police. There is no doubting the courage and determination of the workers who have been subject to lock-outs, beatings and arrest. Getting solidarity amongst the wider working class for the migrant workers is a key task but so far it has been met with indifference (when not outright hostility) from the “native” workforce. SiCobas may claim that it is different but it is like any other union when it comes to defending its own territory. Only last month (November 2020) they organised a demonstration outside the courthouse in Modena in support of some of their members who were on trial on trumped up police charges. Nearly 1,000 turned up including some of our comrades in the PCInt. About 100 were political activists of one sort or another and the bulk of the rest were SiCobas members. A small delegation of SolCobas (a split from SiCobas) also turned up with their banners. Instead of seeing this as an act of solidarity, adding to the weight of numbers, SiCobas members physically chased them out of the demo. Union thuggery it appears is not confined to the three big union federations in Italy.(13) Unions have always divided the class but today the competition for members is as important as the need to get better working and living conditions. Today what workers need for unity is a programme and a political framework which escapes from the clutches not just of the traditional left wing of capitalism posing as “socialist”, but the entire reformist mentality, however radically posed.

Programme and Organisation

And this is why we welcome the AWW contribution “The necessity of a revolutionary working class program in times of coup and civil war scenarios” as a step forward. The strength of its analysis lies in trying to look beyond the current pandemic to envisage what the post-Covid world will look like for the working class. It deserves serious consideration and discussion. We only have space to make a few preliminary comments here.

The AWW can see that the consequences of the Covid crisis will lead to a heating up of the class struggle. Our document Communist Work in a Covid Crisis: A Framework which precedes this one broadly shares that perspective. More misery will be inflicted on workers by a system seeking to recover on their further exploitation. However, there is a more urgent tone to the AWW perspective as it focusses on the violence over the summer in the USA. We don’t share the optimistic presentation here. If it comes to armed conflict in the short term the working class has had it. AWW recognise this, and raise the question of Syria where a popular movement, which began only with the mass of the population on its side, put the Syrian regime in jeopardy in 2011. The moment though was lost because:

when those protests came under armed attack by the state’s thugs the protest movement was not prepared, organisationally or politically, to control the armed fight back. The people who were ready to exploit the gun battles were gangsters, sectarian groups, foreign states and above all, the Syrian state itself.

All this is true but by presenting it just as a list the AWW aren’t analysing what weight to give to each factor. At first in Syria there was only the mass demonstrations in the street chanting “the people want the fall of the regime”. After some days a few parts of the armed forces started to side with the demonstrators (the comparison with February 1917 came to mind for a few hours) but this was a people’s movement not a class movement. It took several days (at least 5) for the Petrograd workers (led by women at first) to win over a significant section of the Petrograd garrison. And they had behind them an imperialist war which brought about widespread starvation. No such situation existed in Syria in 2011. In fact it was almost the opposite. Thus local imperialist rivals (Saudi Arabia and Qatar being first) were free to act. With money and weapons they completely turned the situation on its head by supporting not just the defectors from Assad’s army but also jihadi organisations. The chants on the streets turned to “God is Great” and the programme of imperialist intervention and a civil war irrelevant to the needs of the mass of the population was born. However, we agree with the AWW’s basic premises here that, as in other past movements the real problem was because “no revolutionary working class movement yet existed”. And only when it is embedded in the class will it have the strength to paralyse and win over sections of the old armed forces as the first step in the disintegrations of the state.

Revolutionaries though cannot voluntaristically create a revolutionary working class movement. This depends on the coming together of a whole series of objective (the worsening material condition of workers everywhere) and subjective (the perception that we can no longer go on living like this) factors. However, revolutionaries don’t come from Mars. We are part of the class and our very existence as revolutionaries is evidence that within the working class revolutionary ideas exist, however feebly. The issue which we all have to confront is why, until now, those ideas are limited to so few, especially in the face of a continuing capitalist crisis.

The AWW seeks to make a contribution to this in their analysis of where the class is. They basically argue that three sectors will be strategically critical. These are “tech workers” who “embody necessary productive knowledge”, “mass workers” who embody “productive power” and the “marginalised working class” who “prove that they can turn desperation into collective emancipatory violence”. They conclude that “the recent struggles of these three segments show their capacity and limitations”. In view of our own experience and analysis this is very interesting. We have argued for some time that the professional classes in general are in process of proletarianisation. If this includes what the AWW call “tech workers” then we also agree with them that there is a danger that they “remain isolated from reality” and offer only abstract technological solutions for capitalism itself. What we have observed is that so far only a very few of this segment understand what is happening to them. The majority have the petty bourgeois mentality which seeks to try to regain the status they have lost. This is only one of the problems of uniting the class but we can agree with the AWW that “It will be a hard political struggle” to unite the entire class around “a communist programme”.(14) This class analysis is worth deepening but we are only too happy to acknowledge that the AWW, albeit by a different route, have come to the conclusion that to unite the revolutionary class today requires a political fight. Or as they put it;

… we are at the point in time when steps towards a program and a pragmatic vision of revolutionary rupture, itself become a necessary propelling force for the movements of our class.

If we may say so this is a courageous step for the AWW and predictably brought them some hostility in the libertarian world. However, before we put on our party hats to celebrate (so to speak!) we need to be clear that we mean the same thing. We have always defended the communist programme but by that we have meant the acquisitions of the working class over the last two centuries of experience. It incorporates the lessons (more what is not to be done than what is to be done) of all the struggles, with some standout events like the Paris Commune and the Russian Revolution clarifying many of the issues around how a future society might operate. In short the historical communist programme is based on a vision of a future classless, stateless, moneyless and cooperative world, on what has happened in the past, not on making precise prescriptions for the future based only on what we can understand in the present.

In the past the various socialist parties all had programmes but they were largely broad outlines about how they saw the working class coming to power. Towards the end of the Communist Manifesto Marx set out a sort of mini-programme for the working class but was forced to admit that it was made obsolete by the experience of the Paris Commune. The Bolsheviks had a programme forged after the 1905 revolution which put the “democratic revolution” before the proletarian revolution (with which they distinguished themselves by arguing that that it would come around faster than the Mensheviks said). In April-June 1917 this programme was first questioned and finally ditched for one which called for “All Power to the Soviets”. Even then it set out very few recommendations for what the proletariat might do with soviet power.

This is not the kind of programme which the AWW appear to have in mind. They say that:

At this point we need to relate a pragmatic program to take over the means of production with the actual working class struggles.

The difficulty with that is that the “actual working class” struggles are few and scattered across the world. It looks a tad voluntarist at the moment to put forward any “pragamatic” programme in advance of a wider class movement. We can put forward slogans towards such a programme. The AWW favours “everyone works, everyone works less” (which has its problems) or we might propose that everyone has the right of residence wherever they live in perpetuity without rent or mortgage payments as a first step to “decommodifying” housing and abolishing money until local soviets work out an equitable solution to the housing crisis. But these and any other bright ideas will be stillborn if we have not paralysed, neutralised or dismantled the capitalist state as a first step to guarantee real social change. In short, the precise “pragmatic” programme can be worked out only when the mass of the class are posing the question of where we go next, and we know the context of the social and economic crisis that struggle will operate in. In the meantime though that does not preclude the widest discussion of revolutionary strategy.

And this includes the creation of a political weapon of the working class. The AWW document finishes by saying we need:

organisation – a communist party, in the sense of a living strategy for the self-emancipation of the working class.

We are not entirely sure what the comrades mean here but we assume this will have to be global linking up the various sectors of the class who experience exploitation differently across the planet. Linking these experiences will be crucial to the formation of a real actionable programme. But for us the party (perhaps “international” is better) not only puts forward “a strategy” (revolution) but is also a body of flesh and blood workers who have to unite right across the world. We absolutely share the AWW view that this party will:

have to be rooted in the day-to-day struggles without losing sight of the program.

This is a long and patient work which has to be based on that revolutionary strategy we highlighted above. In the long distant 1920s, at a time of class retreat, when the Comintern was abandoning the revolutionary programme to artificially build a mass following, our ancestors wrote:

It is mistaken to think that in every situation expedients and tactical manoeuvres can widen the party base since relations between the party and the masses depend in large part on the objective situation.(15)

Our tendency, in its various stages, has remained absolutely fixed on this principle in both the periods of expansion and retreat throughout its history. At the moment we seem to be in a situation of flux. Already, even in advance of a wider class movement, we are experiencing a growth of comrades we have not seen since the 1970s. The crisis is already blowing new life into our revolutionary sails. Not with enough power to be effective but enough to give us hope that this is in prospect. In the coming struggles ahead it will be important for revolutionaries from different legacies and places to maintain a dialogue in order to sharpen and expand our understanding of the course towards overthrowing this rotting system. This is why, whatever our disagreements, we broadly welcome the AWW article and look forward to deepening the debate.



(1) For our review see: "Class Power on Zero-Hours": Learning the Hard Way?, for the AWW response see: Day-to-day struggle and class consciousness – Response to the review of ‘Class Power on Zero-Hours’ by the Communist Workers Organisation (CWO)

(2) AWW, The necessity of a revolutionary working class program in times of coup and civil war scenarios

(3) Kolinko, Discussion paper on class composition

(4) See Lars Lih Lenin Rediscovered (2008) and Hal Draper The Myth of Lenin’s “Concept of The Party” or What They Did to What Is To Be Done? (1990)

(5) According to Marcel Leibman Leninism under Lenin (Merlin 1972) p.47

(6) The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Methuen 1963) p.190

(7) Apparently it was the US ex-Stalinist Bertram Wolfe who made the original connection between What Is To Be Done? and the later counter-revolutionary role of the Bolsheviks during the Cold War. It has not stopped it being repeated by many anarchists, who think they have discovered the “original sin” of the October Revolution, ever since. How the Bolsheviks who were an overwhelmingly working class party eventually under conditions of continuing isolation became the managers of the counter-revolution is an immensely more complex story.

(8) We actually already addressed this a little in an article in response to the AWW here: What Does the Communist Left Do?. There is no evidence that they have read it.

(9) This is the link to the first of a five part series on the new economy: Capitalism's New Economy: The Case of the UK

(10) Amadeo Bordiga, Party and Class (first published in Rassegna Comunista 2, 15 April 1921)

(11) The Murders of Fausto Atti and Mario Acquaviva

(12) Demonstration and Strike of Peroni Workers at Tor Sapienza (Rome)

(13) Since this was written the situation between the various of our radical reformist base unions in Italy has only worsened. Amidst very serious mutual recriminations they are accusing each other of being police spies, making agreements with the bosses to exclude members to the competing “base” union, and organising strikes during strikes called by other unions to undermine the opposing base union, etc.

(14) We have written many documents on class composition over the decades. The ones which follow are only a selection: New Class Composition, New Struggles; Class Composition in the Crisis; On Class Composition and Recomposition in the Globalisation of Capital. There is also the five part series on the UK working class: Capitalism's New Economy: The Case of the UK; as well as the article on the middle class which appears in this issue: Mythology About the Middle Class and the Class Struggle

(15) Platform of the Committee of Intesa 1925

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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